The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 37 Leaders should encourage stories of FirstGens within foreign aairs agencies. geographic origin, and educational background of employees’ parents/guardians. We should also ask new hires to voluntarily provide these indicators during the onboarding process to track the e ectiveness of recruitment e orts. Fight invisibility. Adversity faced by FirstGens is not always visible. In fact, rst-generation students, graduates, and professionals spend much of their lives hiding identi ers that may indicate to their peers that they grew up socioeconomically disadvantaged. is needs to change, but it will take time: Socioeconomically disadvantaged children experience shame at some point in their childhoods, if not the entirety of their childhoods, despite having no control over their circumstances. First-generation professionals may feel ashamed about telling their personal stories even though they are authentic examples of the American dream and the social mobility our democracy fosters. Leaders should encourage stories of FirstGens within foreign a airs agencies, highlight their achievements, and promote their recruitment from both rural and urban communities to the U.S. foreign a airs fellowship programs. Provide nancial aid for new hires with need. New hires from outside the capital region accrue moving expenses and debt to relocate to Washington, D.C., an urban area with a high cost of living. If Congress wants the U.S. foreign a airs workforce to re ect the geographic diversity of our country, then arm these agencies with relocation assistance to support new hires with nancial need. is is not just a matter of representation for diversity’s sake; rather, it shows the strength of our democratic form of government, which deploys diplomats and development professionals who fully re ect the country they serve. n